By Anne-marie O'neill
July 19, 1999 12:00 PM

So much for doctor’s orders. On July 1, Cindy Crawford, a full nine months, one week and several days pregnant, lumbered into her obstetrician’s office only to be told to go home and relax, because she still wasn’t ready to give birth. Her mother, Jenny Moluf, who had been visiting for three days in anticipation of the new arrival, headed home to De Kalb, Ill., for the July 4 holiday, while Crawford, 33, and her husband, Rande Gerber, 37, resigned themselves to more waiting. No one, however, had bothered to consult little Presley Walker Gerber for a second opinion. And at 6 p.m., July 2, after 17 hours of labor, the world’s most successful model became a first-time mom. As Crawford cradled her 8-lb. 4-oz. brown-haired son, who measured 20 inches long, his elated father, a bar owner on two coasts, proclaimed, “It’s a boy! It’s a boy!”

Remaining clueless about their baby’s sex right up until the birth wasn’t the only thing the proud parents chose to handle the old-fashioned way. Eager to shield her privacy, Crawford gave birth in the couple’s Brentwood home under the supervision of a midwife and a nurse—and the anxious, joyful gaze of her husband—joining a list of recent Hollywood home-birthers that includes Pamela Anderson Lee, actress Rya Kihlstedt (wife of Ally McBeal‘s Gil Bellows) and Georgiana Thomas, wife of actor Richard Thomas. “For their situation it has been wonderful,” says Moluf, 52, who hotfooted it back to L.A. three days after Cindy called her and announced Presley’s arrival. “They haven’t had to take the baby out or worry about anyone following them. Just a nice, private birth, with the family and the people they wanted here.” Other high-profile parents share that motivation. “When you are giving birth,” says Leslie Stewart, a nurse and the owner of the Home Birth Service of Los Angeles, who delivered both Lee’s and Thomas’s babies, “you don’t want to be a celebrity.”

That’s not to say Dad doesn’t think his baby is a star. At 9 p.m. Pacific time on the night of his son’s arrival, Gerber called his mother, Ellen Peckman, in Miami and repeated his happy mantra: “Mother, we have a boy! We have a boy!” Later both grandmas received digital photos of Presley by e-mail. (“In the picture he looked 2 months old!” notes Moluf. “He looks like his dad.”) “Rande was so excited,” says Peckman, who planned to join the new family in their bouquet-strewn L.A. home later. “I talked to Cindy for a few seconds, and she told me, ‘I’m feeling fine. And the baby’s beautiful.’ And I said, ‘Thank God! Mom and baby are wonderful.’ ”

Who would expect anything less from Crawford—the valedictorian turned supermodel turned business conglomerate? In the 15 years since she first stepped into a Chicago photographer’s studio, Crawford’s all-American voluptuousness has graced more than 400 magazine covers (and countless bedroom walls, including Prince William‘s) and boosted sales of calendars, workout videos, movies and TV shows. Yet maternity has always ranked very high on her personal to-do list. “I’ve had the career-as-priority thing,” she told PEOPLE last year. “Now I am ready for a family and kids too.”

For Presley’s clucking grandparents, that moment couldn’t have arrived too soon—though Peckman admits she was among the first to ask what was up with the moniker. “I asked Rande if the baby’s name has something to do with Elvis, and Rande told me, ‘No, Ma, Presley was [Elvis’s] last name. Presley is Presley’s first name.’ ” “It’s not like they’re Elvis freaks or anything,” adds Moluf. “The name popped up, and they kept going back to it.” One thing, at least, is clear: “Cindy,” says Peckman, “will be a wonderful mother.”

Still, mortal moms need not despair. Pregnancy, after all, is a great leveler. “I was throwing up pretty much every day for six weeks,” Crawford told Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America during one of the monthly installments of the video diary of her pregnancy that began airing on the show in March. “And it wasn’t just in the morning either. That’s a misnomer.” Queasy through much of her first trimester, Crawford shed five pounds and lived on cereal and baked potatoes. She gained the weight back—and then some—but relinquished her favorite sushi (raw fish can harbor bacteria that can be harmful to babies in utero) and instead caved in to a craving for 69-cent Taco Bell bean burritos.

“What’s more, the mom-to-be wasn’t overly thrilled with her blooming body. “It felt like a science project,” Crawford complained to W magazine, for which she stripped down to nothing but her Chanel necklace in June, going against her own edict not to pose nude during the pregnancy. (She changed her mind after photographer Michael Thompson pointed out that in clothes she looked, not pregnant, but “like she might have had too many beers the night before.” Says Moluf: “She’s not very timid about those things.”) “It’s a miracle, yes,” Crawford said of her growing girth. “But what can I say? I liked the way I looked in Playboy last year.”

So did multitudes. But despite her misgivings, Crawford didn’t exactly hide her pregnancy. Whether she was pillioning around Malibu on Gerber’s motorcycle or hanging out—but drinking no alcohol—at his hip L.A. watering hole the SkyBar (as she did until after midnight just a couple of days before the birth), Crawford never sacrificed her sexy style—or, for that matter, her favorite 3-inch Gucci heels. “She wanted to look modern, clean and hip,” says Vivian Turner, her fashion stylist. Turner stocked her model client’s closet with maternity gear from Manhattan designer Liz Lange and San Francisco-based Japanese Weekend Maternity wear (also favored by new moms Lisa Kudrow, Madonna and Ricki Lake), along with figure-hugging numbers from regular designer collections including Ghost, Diane Von Furstenberg and Melinda Eng. “She wasn’t one of those women who hide their bellies when they’re pregnant,” says Turner, noting that Crawford’s favorite dress was a black jersey number by Gucci.

Nor did Crawford allow a bulging belly to get in the way of her career. Currently on her books are lucrative spokesmodel deals with Ellen Tracy, Revlon and Omega watches, as well as a three-year contract for specials and guest spots on ABC. As for her already wholesome image, impending motherhood only enhanced it. Five months pregnant at the fall fashion shows, Crawford hit the catwalk for Tracy in a series of clothes specially fitted for her fuller figure. “That was a little daunting,” she later confessed to her video diary, “because even in normal life I’m not the skinniest model.” Not that it matters when you’re Cindy Crawford. “When she came out on the runway,” says the label’s design director Linda Allard, “there was overwhelming welcoming applause. People just respond to Cindy.”

Expecting or not, maintaining a catwalk-worthy figure doesn’t come without effort, even for Crawford. Still, her prime concern was “the livelihood and well-being of the baby,” says her friend, makeup artist Carol Shaw. “That’s more important than staying 118 pounds.” With that in mind, Crawford stuck to her usual low-fat diet of chicken, pasta and salad (give or take the occasional burrito). At her favorite L.A. gym, she kept up her routine of 20 minutes on the treadmill and an hour of light weight training, lunges and squats. But to protect the baby, Crawford’s L.A.-based trainer, Valerie Waters, 35, instructed her to walk rather than run and eliminated abdominal exercises by month five of the pregnancy.

Crawford also replaced one or two of her four weekly workouts with maternity yoga classes taught by yogi-to-the-stars Gurmukh. She shared mat space with actress Reese Witherspoon (due to give birth in the fall) but also reveled in the camaraderie of her nonceleb classmates. “Everybody in the class loved her,” one fellow student says of Crawford, who exchanged tips with the others over tea and cookies after class. “She’s approachable and very genuine.”

Regaining her figure postpartum will probably be no sweat for the new mom, who “has an incredible head start with her genes and figure and drive,” says Crawford’s longtime friend and trainer Radu, who sees to her fitness needs when she’s on the East Coast. Adds Waters: “Does she want her body back the way it was before? Absolutely! But we’re going to take a wait-and-see attitude. This is her first baby, so let’s see how she feels on sleep deprivation and learning to deal with a newborn.”

By all bets she will handle that just fine. After all, motherhood is something that Crawford has been looking forward to for years. “More than anything, I want a family,” she told PEOPLE in 1992. “I love kids and sort of feel like that’s the thing I am going to be best at, being a mother.” Her then-husband Richard Gere didn’t share her yearnings. “I would rather be able to think of all creatures as my children,” he said. They divorced two years later. (Gere is now expecting a baby with actress Carey Lowell.)

Alone at 29 in 1995, Crawford bemoaned her childless state to Playboy: “I thought I’d be in a different place. I thought I’d have kids by now.” Yet even today she maintains that the children issue didn’t cause her very public split from Gere. “In the end,” she told US in May, “we just wanted conflicting things out of life.”

That wasn’t the case with Gerber. When they first met—before Crawford wed Gere—Gerber, a former model himself, “was not thinking of marriage at all,” says Peckman. “He was having a good time, carving out his career.” Then Cupid intervened. “When Cindy and I really got to know each other better and started dating,” Gerber said on his wife’s GMA video diary in June, “I thought what an unbelievable mother she would be.”

After the couple’s May 1998 wedding on a Bahamas beach, parenthood was just a matter of time. Crawford’s father left the family when she was 16, and her younger brother died of leukemia when she was 10. She has always considered her mother, who married John Moluf, 41, in 1989, and her two sisters role-model parents. “The wonderful relationship she has with her own mother will flow into the relationship she has with her own child,” says pal Carol Shaw. Moluf, too, is confident of her daughter’s parenting skills. “She’s patient, and she likes to play with kids,” she says, “to pretend with them, fix cookies with them.”

There have been plenty of kids to practice with. Both Crawford and Gerber have baby half-siblings (Cindy’s father, Dan Crawford, 52, and his girlfriend Anne, 31, have a 20-month-old son, and Rande’s dad, Jordan, 61, and his wife, Tracey, 34, have a 9-month-old daughter). And both have done their share of diaper duty with their combined nephews and nieces. “Rande has spent a lot of time around my kids,” says his brother Scott, 38, the father of two. “But he’ll have to see for himself. Once you have your own, there’s no feeling like it.”

The new parents have already tackled the big issues such as religion (like Mom, Presley will be raised Protestant but with exposure to his dad’s Jewish traditions) and money (Crawford and Gerber keep their personal wealth separate and contribute to a joint family account). And now that Presley has arrived, friends and family are helping the couple stock up on the latest in baby gear. Designer Liz Lange, for example, commemorated the birth with a yellow-and-white baby blanket from Basil in East Hampton, N.Y., and a set of antique nesting blocks and a blue outfit from Manhattan’s Nursery Lines. The newborn received a set of sterling silver barbells and a tiny Tiffany tennis racket from Radu. And Richard Miller, who outfitted Crawford’s homes with workout equipment, is crafting a model baby-exercise machine.

As for the day-to-day grind of parenting, Crawford will have “the same problems as everybody else,” says her friend and manager Michael Gruber, “whether it’s finding a nanny, what food to feed the baby, what milk.” To help her through the first few months, Crawford has hired live-in help and put her decorator Michael Smith in charge of renovating the nursery. “They don’t have a traditional, all fluffy nursery,” says Moluf. “They have a crib and a rocker and a change table and diapers—all the things she needs. But it’s not a theme park.” Moluf plans to stick around for at least five days, but she has already given her daughter plenty of advice. “I told her, ‘You’re going to make mistakes,’ ” she says, ” ‘and you have to give yourself that forgiveness.’ ”

That’s a tough call for a woman known for being a diehard perfectionist. But at this point in her life, it’s advice that Cindy Crawford, bolstered by all her career achievements, may finally be ready to accept. “I don’t want to work that hard,” she confessed last year. “I don’t want to take so much on that I can’t have a personal life. I have learned to balance.” Indeed, the real work may have just begun. “Cindy’s been doing laundry,” reports Moluf. “She’s up and around. I came in today and she was like, ‘What do you want me to fix you for lunch, Mom?’ She’s feeling really, really well.”

Anne-Marie O’Neill

Ward Morehouse III in New York City, Mary Green in Chicago and Ken Baker, Michelle Caruso, Steven Cojocaru, Elizabeth Leonard and Vicki Sheff-Cahan in Los Angeles